I am America is a photo journal that celebrates the dignity of human resilience. It is a journey through time, chronicled by images of simplicity and grace, meant to reveal the many facets of who we are, as Americans, and as a people united by our endurance and
our beauty. This collection of photographs is meant to serve as a point of reference in time right now, and to inspire our humanity moving forward.
The symbolism of the American flag is communicated through its context in portraits. It is our desire to take a look at this powerful symbol through the lens of truth, as when one walks in truth they can never be ignored, dismissed, nor forgotten. It is our goal to acknowledge the instinctual beauty of the will to survive and the will to simply state, “I AM”.
The American flag is relevant to all who have come to this land, and through the use of it as an iconic symbol we pay homage and respect to the human experience.
Nine months ago Grammy nominated music producer turned photographer Alessandro Elena and celebrated international fashion model turned creative director Lisa Butler decided to collaborate.
What began as one simple image soon evolved into many, and this journal has taken on a life and voice of its own. Our plan is to continue this journey, crossing America beginning in late 2015, to chronicle the voice that has spoken to us, saying, “I am America”.
“The fantastic thing about children is that when it comes to dreaming,
they truly believe with no hesitation. We should never forget that.” — Lisa Butler.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Lisa Butler and Alex Elena teamed up in 2013. What began as one simple image soon evolved into a full time collaboration, and the birth of the project “I Am America.” Their work will be showcased at the beautiful Leica Gallery in Los Angeles on Nov 5th through December 8th 2015.
Alex Elena was born and raised in Rome into a family of artists and musicians. He started playing drums at the tender of three. By the time he was 17 he was living in London and playing professionally. His thirst for creative development prompted a move to New York to begin producing music. His unconventional approach eventually landed a Grammy nomination for the soul singer Alice Smith. Alex has also produced successful artists such as Lily Allen, Evan Dando, Citizen Cope, and Michelle Shaprow.
Alex’s work evolved to include photography in 2009 when a sudden decision to create a portrait of the Darien Strip took him to the jungles in Panama. His father was his first creative mentor in music, but regarding photography, he is completely self-taught. He’s photographed a range of subjects spanning the globe: from the slums of Kenya, everyday life in The Gambia, the vanishing Indigenous Tribes in Central America, to the aftermath of the war in the former Yugoslavia.
His book of photography entitled “A Mission in Panama” was installed as a multimedia event in London and Rome. All proceeds from the sales of this work were donated to charity for the preservation of the Indigenous cultures of Central America.
Alex currently lives in Los Angeles.
Lisa Butler spent her childhood in San Francisco. Her entrepreneurial parents came from Mississippi, the Deep South, and instilled in her the importance of hard work. Lisa’s vision of discovering the world developed early as she would spend days in her mother’s closet trying on her shoes, clothes, makeup and jewelry. Her dress up games created images and a vivid picture of where she would go when she ‘grew up’. Her intuitive mother observed this and encouraged her to follow her dreams. This imagery facilitated in developing her vision and style, and most importantly crystallized who she would later become.
Lisa went on to become an accomplished model, and has been the face of several international campaigns for popular brands such as Revlon, Rimmel, Liz Claiborne and Almay. She’s done work for household brands like Lycra, Hanes, Nabisco, Coca Cola and appeared in French Vogue, Elle and O Magazine, to mention a few. With every accomplishment, that little girl in her mother’s closet continues to fuel her drive to create unsurpassed imagery.
Lisa has found her true form of expression as a Creative Director. Instinctively following her unique vision that was cultivated over time led her to create, direct and style the photography for the “I Am America” project. The pure joy of unrestrained creative expression is what drives her to-date.
“The fantastic thing about children is that when it comes to dreaming, they truly believe with no hesitation. We should never forget that” – Lisa Butler